[Updated April 24, 2023]
In a region wrought with spectacular waterfalls, no place has nearly as many as Transylvania County, North Carolina. Encompassing 381 square miles, the area is home to some 250 waterfalls!
The county seat of Transylvania is the tiny mountain town of Brevard NC, which has a population of less than 10,000 residents.
With a smattering of historic charm and all the creature comforts of contemporary times, it’s an ideal space to serve as a waterfall exploration hub.
Brevard is perfectly positioned just a few miles between the entrances to Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Recreational Forest.
Just a little further afield, Gorges State Park, the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer more great gateways into nature.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the Top 20 waterfalls near Brevard NC, including a Brevard waterfalls map, descriptions of the hiking trails to the falls, and an overview of the sights you’ll see along the way.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Brevard NC (Transylvania County)
Waterfalls Near Brevard NC Guide
- Bridal Veil Falls
- Cathey’s Creek Falls
- Connestee Falls
- Cove Creek Falls
- Daniel Ridge Falls
- French Broad Falls
- Graveyard Fields Falls
- Hickory Nut Falls
- High Falls
- Key Falls
- Log Hollow Falls
- Looking Glass Falls
- Moore Cove Falls
- Pearson’s Falls
- Rainbow Falls
- Schoolhouse Falls
- Silver Run Falls
- Sliding Rock Falls
- Triple Falls
- Upper Whitewater Falls
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1.Bridal Veil Falls
One of several star-studded waterfalls in Dupont State Recreational Forest, Bridal Veil Falls sometimes gets skipped because it isn’t on the park’s unofficial waterfall hike.
But Friends of the Dupont Forest calls Bridal Veil– one of four great waterfalls along the Little River– “the most interesting in the park.”
It takes an extra couple of miles of hiking to reach the waterfall from the High Falls Access Point, or a good three-plus mile hike from the Fawn Lake Access Point.
Either way, hikes to Bridal Veil Falls can also include walks along several of the beautiful North Carolina mountain lakes in Dupont State Forest.
The 120-foot waterfall dives off of a short, overhanging ledge, crashes onto a granite rockface, and slides down in a rush of white water before plunging into a pool.
It is the first of the falls on Little River and was famously featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans.
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2.Cathey’s Creek Falls
Yet another amazing Pisgah Forest waterfall, Cathey’s Creek Falls is easy enough to access, but it does require venturing down an unpaved forest service road, which makes it one of the lesser-visited waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest.
This waterfall gets overlooked by outsider visitors because it isn’t near the posted attractions, such as The Cradle of Forestry and Looking Glass Falls.
Cathy’s Creek requires taking US-64 west out of Brevard and navigating several small backroads into the rarely visited parts of Pisgah National Forest.
Even so, Cathey’s Creek Falls stands 80-foot tall and slides down a rippling rockface into a splash pool below.
Plus, it’s possible to combine a trip to Cathey’s Creek with Log Hollow Falls (2 waterfalls on Log Hollow Branch), eventually circling back onto US-276 for stops at Moore Cove Falls, Sliding Rock Falls, and Looking Glass Falls. That’s six waterfalls in a day out!
READ MORE: Pisgah National Forest: A Beginner’s Guide
3. Connestee Falls
Truth be told, the best way to see this waterfall is to know someone who lives in the gated community of Connestee Falls, because the trail leading along a cascading creek to it is incredible.
I was lucky enough to live there in my mom’s basement for a short time, and got to take the hike regularly. It was also a great walk for foraging wild mushrooms!
Anyhow, the good news is that there is a public platform for viewing both Connestee Falls (85 feet tall) and Baston Creek Falls, which merge into each other before taking the “Silver Slip.”
To get to the viewing platform, head south on US-276 from Brevard and pull off at 5388 Greenville Highway. It’s a perfect stop-off on the way to Dupont State Recreational Forest.
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4. Cove Creek Falls
Included in the collection of waterfall hikes closest to Brevard, Cove Creek Falls takes a little adventuring, but that’s what visiting & camping in Pisgah National Forest is all about, isn’t it!
Cove Creek Falls is accessed from FR 475, about three miles drive from US-276. When FR 475 shifts to being a gravel road at FR 809, near the Cove Creek Campground, it’s time to park.
A trip to Cove Creek Falls combines nicely with Daniel Ridge Falls and Slick Rock Falls, both of which are also on off-shoots from Fr 475.
This waterfall hike near Brevard NC that is much less likely to be overrun with tourists, something that can come at a premium during the season.
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5. Daniel Ridge Falls
One of many wonderful Pisgah National Forest waterfalls, Daniel Ridge Falls (which is sometimes called Tom’s Spring Falls or Jackson Falls) requires just a short, half-mile hike to see.
It can be reached via the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, and is close to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, which includes the State Fish Hatchery.
From the small parking area, the waterfall can be accessed via the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail, which crosses and follows the Davidson River en route.
To see the falls, visitors can do a one-mile out-and-back trek or take the entire loop– a four-mile adventure that also includes a fantastic view from atop the falls.
Daniel Ridge Falls is 150 feet high, and it is particularly cool after a good rain, when the tiny stream generally picks up some extra volume. Luckily, it’s located in a temperate rainforest!
READ MORE: The 20 Best Pisgah National Forest Hiking Trails in North Carolina
6. French Broad Falls
Technically speaking, a visit to French Broad Falls also includes a gander at Mill Shoals, a.k.a. Shoal Creek Falls.
Located along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, French Broad Falls sits on private property (Living Water, a religious retreat), but it is open to the public.
French Broad Falls and Shoal Creek Falls are twin waterfalls, sitting side-by-side at the convergence where the French Broad River absorbs Shoal Creek.
Neither has a noteworthy drop (both stand around 15 feet tall), but they are wide and impressive, particularly after a solid rain.
The hike to French Broad Falls is very short, so it would be a shame not to press on for another 1/4-mile along the trail to add Cathedral Falls (which is also a 15-footer) for a sweet trifecta.
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7. Graveyard Fields Falls
Graveyard Fields doesn’t have a big name-brand waterfall, but the loop hike there provides all the cascade glitter a person could wish for.
The trailhead for this waterfall hike near Brevard NC (26 miles) is on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 418.8), heading south from the intersection with US-276.
The area is beloved by locals. It is a mile-high valley with 6,000-foot mountain peaks around it, and the Yellow Prong River runs right through to create two waterfalls, simply referred to as Upper and Lower or First and Second.
The Graveyard Fields hike is one of the BRP favorites, and in late summer, it is especially popular for its wild blueberries.
A couple of miles further down the Parkway, Skinny Dip Falls is another popular spot that is great for swimming.
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8. Hickory Nut Falls
Chimney Rock State Park gets a lot of attention for its namesake rock formation, an iconic symbol of North Carolina.
But the state park is also home to Hickory Nut Falls, the second-tallest of the NC waterfalls.
Hickory Nut Falls exceeds 400 feet, plunging in a thin stream from the top of a bare rock face. It’s visible from the highway as you drive into the Chimney Rock village.
There’s a 1/4-mile hiking trail to the base of Hickory Nut Falls (1/2-mile round-trip). It is uphill, but the thundering crash of the falls makes it worthwhile.
The Hickory Nut Falls Trail can be reached via the Chimney Rock Access area.
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9. High Falls
As its name would seem to suggest, High Falls is the tallest of the waterfalls on the Little River in Dupont State Recreational Forest.
Measuring 150 feet, the waterfall is very easy to reach from the High Falls Access Point, which is also where the forest’s Visitors Center is located.
Incredible views of the falls are bountiful. You can get great shots from the picnic shelter that overlooks them, from the High Falls Trail, and from the rock pools right at the base of the falls.
Just uphill from the top of the falls is a wonderful wooden bridge that’s great for views of the Little River. A 1/2-mile downriver (along the High Falls Trail), Triple Falls is set to wow yet again.
This particular duo of waterfalls is awesome enough to inspire Hollywood directors to film in Dupont State Forest on more than one occasion (Last of the Mohicans, The Hunger Games, etc).
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10. Key Falls
Fed by an unnamed tributary of the French Broad, Key Falls is a 50-foot cascade that trickles down several rock ledges before joining the river less than half a mile downstream.
The waterfall is located on private property (at the Key Falls Inn), but is open to the public. The falls are actually visible from Seven Springs Road, but visitors can also park at the Inn and walk to them as well.
While Key Falls isn’t the tallest or most voluminous of the waterfalls in Brevard, its beauty—including rock ledges lined with rhododendrons and other North Carolina wildflowers— rivals any on this list.
It’s an easy, quick stop between the waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest and the falls in Dupont State Forest, so why not take a minute to see another stunner?
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11. Log Hollow Falls
Rarely visited amongst the Pisgah National Forest waterfalls, and not far from the famed Looking Glass Falls, Log Hollow Falls is a great stop for waterfall hikes near Brevard.
The trailhead (a gated forest road) for Log Hollow Falls is less than two miles off of US-276, which goes right through the heart of the Pisgah District of the forest.
Log Hollow Falls is not an exceptional huge waterfall—in fact, there is a taller one just a quarter mile up the creek—but it is exceptionally beautiful.
There are so many phenomenal Pisgah Forest falls in this area that Log Hollow Falls is often overlooked, but for those looking for off-the-beaten-track sites, this is a great one.
Heading from Brevard, turn right on US-276 into Pisgah Forest and look for FR 475 B about 10 miles in. When FR 475 B intersects with FR 5043, find a spot to park. It’s about half a mile down 5043.
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12. Looking Glass Falls
In terms of ROI, this waterfall is perhaps the biggest attraction on this list.
It’s visible from US-276 on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, which cuts right through Pisgah National Forest.
Looking Glass Falls has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from the big waterfalls– height, volume of water, massive rock faces. But it doesn’t require any hiking whatsoever.
On one hand, this is a fantastic waterfall for quickly checking off the list and getting on with the day. On the other hand, it can be very crowded at peak times as a result.
Nevertheless, standing at 60 feet, Looking Glass Falls is an amazing sight to see, and it is very near to Sliding Rock and the DuPont Forest waterfalls.
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13. Moore Cove Falls
Located just 1.6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, Moore Cove Falls is another natural wonder in Pisgah National Forest.
There are no big signs leading to it, but it’s on the information board in the parking lot.
Moore Cove Falls is 50 feet high, with a wispy veil of water spilling over a rocky outcrop, then splashing down onto stone below before trickling into a pool.
It’s got the amazing setting— stone, forest, sunshine leaking through— as well as the bonus of being able to walk behind the plunging water.
The hike to Moore Cove Falls is less than a mile, with no significant slopes or challenges. So it’s great for easy strolls or family outings.
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14. Pearson’s Falls
Located on a 300-acre botanical preserve in Polk County NC, the 90-foot Pearson’s Falls is one of the area’s major natural attractions.
Pearson’s Falls can be accessed via a 1/4-mile hiking trail through a cove forest with spring-fed streams, and there is one other short trail— Webster Way— to enjoy while you’re there.
Even better, the waterfall is only part of the show. The Tyron Garden Club maintains Pearson’s Falls & Glen, so there are hundreds of species of wildflowers and other plants to appreciate as well.
Note that there is a small admission fee to get into the preserve, which helps fund maintenance of the attraction.
Gates open at 10AM daily, closing at 6PM from March through October and at 5PM in November and December. The grounds shut down for the winter in January.
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15. Rainbow Falls
Visiting Rainbow Falls through Gorges State Park inevitably involves seeing at least one, and possibly two other waterfalls.
But Rainbow Falls, which is actually located in the adjoining Nantahala National Forest, steals the show. It’s a skyscraper, stretching about 150 feet tall, and seemingly dumps an ocean of water down a steep rock face.
As its name would seem to suggest, the mist spraying out from the waterfall’s cascades produces a rainbow effect on sunny days. One of the many wonderful aspects of visiting Rainbow Falls is that there are views from just about every perspective.
While you’re there, it would be foolish not to visit Turtleback Falls (a 1/4-mile upstream) and Hidden Falls (a 1/4-mile downstream.
The hike to Rainbow Falls is about 3 miles out-and-back, and the trailhead can be found at the Grassy Ridge Parking Area in Gorges State Park.
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16. Schoolhouse Falls
Though it is about 22 miles from Brevard, Schoolhouse Falls is well worth the trip over to Panthertown Valley in Nantahala National Forest.
While not tall, Schoolhouse Falls is a knockout, with a freefall of about 20 feet. Even cooler, it’s one of those special falls that you can walk behind.
It also has an amazing NC Swimming hole that’s perfect for a refreshing dip in the summertime.
Right in the vicinity of Schoolhouse Falls (same parking area) are several other waterfalls to check out: Pothole Falls, Mac’s Falls, and Greenland Creek Falls.
In other words, this side trip out of the Transylvania County waterfalls could become a waterfall bonanza.
From Brevard, the parking area is west on the US-64 towards Lake Toxaway. Turn right on NC-281 and, in less than a mile, left on Cold Mountain Road. It’s a six-mile drive from here. When the pavement goes to gravel, the trailhead is near.
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17. Silver Run Falls
A sparkling gem in the collection of impressive waterfalls in Nantahala National Forest, Silver Run Falls is only about 25 feet high, but it’s a stunner!
This waterfall takes a plunge from a rock ledge and then splashes onto a steeply sloped rock face before sliding down into an inviting pool.
Silver Run Falls is a popular swimming hole for folks around Cashiers, as well as Highlands and Sapphire.
To get to this waterfall, take State Route 107 south from Cashiers for 4 miles and the trailhead (a small parking area) will be on the right. The hike to it is just a quarter of a mile.
This is a great stop to include on a NC waterfalls day trip, with Dry Falls, Whitewater Falls, Cashiers Sliding Rock, and High Falls all under 20 miles away.
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18. Sliding Rock Falls
Sliding Rock Falls warrants a visit as much for the sheer fun of it as for the stunning natural beauty. Aside from being a waterfall, this is a 60-foot-long natural water slide that culminates in a deep pool.
Visitors can slide down the falls on their backsides or on floatation devices, either brought in or rented on-site.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, Sliding Rock is operated by Adventure Pisgah, which staffs it with lifeguards and opens up the bathrooms. From Labor Day through the end of October, Adventure Pisgah operates only on the weekends.
There’s a $4.00 usage fee for the day when AP’s services are in operation. Regardless, Sliding Rock Falls is open to visitors 365 days a year.
Sliding Rock Falls is located within a couple of miles of Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls.
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19. Triple Falls
Possibly the most spectacular waterfall near Brevard is Triple Falls, which is located on the High Falls Trail in DuPont State Recreational Forest.
The waterfall comes down in three large plunges, each staggering from the previous, such that the trio measures some 120 feet tall in all.
Triple Falls is located between High Falls (which is less than a mile upstream) and Hooker Falls (which is less than a mile downstream), and it can be accessed from either of their respective parking areas.
When the weather isn’t icy, it’s possible to walk out on the rock ledges of Triple Falls for a closer look. But note that it can get very slippery and swimming here is prohibited.
There’s something about this majestic waterfall cutting through the trees, pushing up into the sky, that makes it seem just about as grand as they come.
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20. Upper Whitewater Falls
Recognized as the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, the 800-foot Whitewater Falls is formed at the sharp drop from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the North Carolina Piedmont.
This waterfall is also an inter-state attraction. Upper Whitewater Falls offers a 411-foot plunging cascade in North Carolina, while Lower Whitewater Falls features 400 more feet of falls in South Carolina.
Terrain here is steep and rugged, so NC visitors usually stick to the paved trail down to a pair of waterfall overlooks.
That being said, the Foothills Trail is an 85-mile trail that passes through Whitewater Falls Recreation Area, and it will take adventurers into South Carolina to view the Lower Falls.
The hike is 8.8 miles out-and-back, and is considered moderately challenging.
The Whitewater Falls Recreation Area is located near the NC-SC border on NC-281, and there is a $3 vehicle parking fee. The same pass can also be used for Dry Falls and Whiteside Mountain. —Jonathon Engels; lead photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett